While on our gorilla trekking safari in Rwanda’s Volcanoes National Park, we started the trek with 6 others at 9 a.m. The surrounding area was beautiful. As soon as we started reaching even a little bit of height, the views became even more stunning.
We climbed steeply up the mountain for 2hours and the trackers who find the gorillas each day and then stay with them all day still hadn’t found them. Some members of our group were having a difficult time with the hike. It was more challenging than they had anticipated.
The other members of our group brought thick gloves with them as the bushes in some areas were very sharp and prickly. I hadn’t realized I was supposed to bring thick gloves so I raised my hands above my head in these areas. If I ever make it back to visit the gorillas, I will bring the proper gloves.
As time continued, William and I grew more and more worried that the trackers would never find the gorillas and we would never be able to see them. Our fears subsided when they turned us all around and started us in a completely different direction up a completely different mountain to find a completely different family of gorillas.
Two members of our group who were struggling with the trek stayed behind. Our guide told us this is the second time in two years he had guided a tour that couldn’t find the family. We were told the trackers ended up finding our originally designated family of gorillas 30 minutes after we turned around in the opposite direction, but that the family was extremely far away.
It was feeling helpless for several hours. I worried that it would get too late in the day and they would turn us around to head back in. I was overjoyed when our group came across the tracker to guide us to our new gorilla family, the Titus family, as I knew that we had to be close when we came across the tracker. I looked at the tracker excitedly and asked, “Will I really be able to see the gorilla family?” He confirmed my question with a pleasant smile and told me to be patient.
The closer we got to the Titus family, the less of a path we had. There is no distinct path to the gorillas since they move freely. The tracker and our guide somewhat cleared a path with a machete. It made the journey all the more exciting.
Once we met up with the other two trackers, we had to take our backpacks off before we were permitted to see the Titus family. The first tracker we met had me follow directly behind him so I was the first person in our group to see the Titus family. The first feeling that swept over me was one of relief that we actually got to see the gorillas. The tracker who guided us to the family took very good care of me. He always positioned me in a great spot to see the gorillas. I was very thankful to him.
We saw 7 gorillas in all, including an 8-month-old baby and the dominant silverback, which is the head of the family. We were told only male gorillas become silverbacks. Their backs become silver around 12 to 15 years of age. It is similar to how men get gray hair when they get older.
The average treks last from 2 to 7 hours. Ours was 8 hours. It was all worth it. We got to stay with the gorillas for 1 hour. They got really close to us. One walked right past us and rubbed against my leg. The tracker told me to stay still as it passed by me. The others were just a few feet away at all times. I wanted to see a family of gorillas with a baby in it because babies are cute and the most likely to be active.
The baby gorilla in the Titus family was extremely rambunctious. The baby was swinging along with the trees, knocking into the other gorillas, and just being an adorable little nuisance. One of the teenage gorillas was desperately trying to get the baby gorilla to calm down and rest. The baby never slowed down. It was such an amazing experience.